It was late summer in 1964 when I arrived on campus at the University of Chicago to begin my freshman year. I met my roommate and started to settle into college life. But the second day as I returned to my dorm from one of the orientation sessions, I noticed an appalling smell filling the air. I assumed that somewhere there had been a break in the sewage system and that was the cause of the foul odor.
That night at our evening meal in my dorm’s cafeteria I happened to mention this to the new classmates I had just met. I asked if anyone else had smelled the same thing I had and if they knew the source. One of my classmates who had been raised in Chicago rather matter-of-factly said, “Oh, that’s the smell of blood coming from the animals being slaughtered at the Chicago Stockyards.” I remember looking at the piece of beef on my plate and decided that I was through with dinner.
The good news about the Stockyards, which were about five miles from my dorm, was that smell which was recurrent, only wafted my way when the wind blew from the west. The bad news was that the wind almost always blew from the west. I couldn’t even imagine how intense that smell must have been to those Chicago residents who lived in closer proximity to the Yards.
Well, the Yards finally closed. Perhaps that was because Chicago had finally relinquished and grown beyond its position as a major animal processing center. Or perhaps, like the clever plan that Hitler devised for the placement of his death camps, it was determined that putting these buildings devoted to killing in relatively remote places, shielded the activities that went on from the broader public view and thus allowed the butchers of humans and animals to continue with less scrutiny.
If we had our present technological capabilities in the 1940’s and an undercover group had secretly filmed the goings on at Auschwitz and Dachau and released that film footage for the world to see, I wonder if that might not have greatly shortened WWII as people worldwide and within Germany itself might have been so aroused to action that the Hitler regime might have been defeated far sooner by conscientious people who said, “This is unacceptable. This is inhuman.”
If we had our present technological capabilities in 1964 and an undercover group had secretly filmed the “processing” of animals at the Chicago Stockyards and released that footage for the world to see, I wonder how many of us would set aside that T-bone or pork roast and adopt a vegetarian lifestyle.
Most of us would prefer to live in a world where horror and atrocity in its many variant forms was not something to which we were exposed. That is becoming increasingly difficult as virtually all of us now have the ability to get the news and see what is happening nearly as quickly as the events themselves transpire. That is both the good and bad news of living in a technological information age. And as much as we might choose to ignore the disgusting and prurient, there are enough of us who actually enjoy that sort of thing and are only too pleased to bring the most appalling stories to the attention of those who might have tried to shield themselves from them.
Perhaps the reason that there has been so much outrage and disgust about the video taped interviews with three different Planned Parenthood doctors, routinely discussing the “transacting” of human fetal body parts, is that we have removed the abortion “process” from behind the walls of one of those nice, innocent looking buildings, and seen examples of what that “process” actually looks like, particularly in the third of these films. And for all but the most clinical of us, that picture is disturbing at the least.
Some of that anger centers correctly about the abortion process itself. Others are focusing on a corollary issue – which is whether people who are adamantly opposed to abortion should be forced to pay for subsidies to Planned Parenthood – although that organization adamantly denies that any public funds are used for abortive procedures. But this defense, of course, begs a larger and more fundamental question.
Why should the public subsidize Planned Parenthood at all since we now have Obamacare which was supposed to have cured all our insurance and medical ills and deficiencies? Cecile Richards, CEO of Planned Parenthood is an ardent Obama supporter and activist and surely must be at least as well informed on the law as any of the robotic members of Congress who voted to pass this law without bothering to read it. So if Obamacare is as efficient as the president claims, why is there a need for additional subsidies to groups like Planned Parenthood or any similar organization?
Perhaps Obama can address this issue when he returns from his trip to Africa having lectured the leaders of several countries on how they need to work on improving their record on human rights.